Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Going Too Far

Going Too Far

Unfortunately, it was going to happen, and we who support the movement need to call out those instances where it goes too far.  I am talking about the justified Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, mostly characterized by widespread peaceful protests even in small rural towns that never see such things, and with a solid majority of the American people currently supporting both the BLM and its main demands.  As it is, one should probably not tie the BLM to some of these recent unacceptable events, although those engaged in them will justify their actions as being part of the movement. This should not be accepted.

OK, the one that has really put me off happened last night at sometime after 10:30 PM in Madison, Wisconsin.  A statue I know well was not only pulled down, but it was decapitated with both parts thrown in a nearby lake, although apparently since recovered. This statue stood on the east corner of the Capitol Square downtown.  It is of Hans Christian Heg (1829-1863).  An immigrant from Norway, he was an active anti-slavery abolitionist and member of the Free Soil Party who led the 15th Scandinavian American regiment in the Union army.  He died fighting against the Confederacy in the Battle of Chickamauga, which it says on the base of his statue.  There is absolutely no justification for this event.

This was accompanied by other pretty unacceptable nonsense. The “Forward” statue at the opposite end of the square was also pulled down and dragged down State Street.  This is of a generic woman representing the state motto of “Forward,” not quite as completely insane as pulling down Heg, but also without any obvious justification. The Forward motto and idea has long been associated with the Progressive tradition in the state, although I suppose one could drag in bad stuff about some of those folks, such as that some supported eugenics. But I do not think this crowd was thinking about that.

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What Will History Say


        The Past                                                                  Now             The Future

What Will History Say


Ken Melvin

When the new US History books come out in 2040, what will they have to say about 2020? What will they say about:  Globalization?  The Trump Presidency?  Global Warming?  The 2020 Pandemic?  China’s Rise?  America’s Decline?  Capitalism and Free markets?  Mitch McConnell?

to run where the brave dare not go.

Globalization: From a US perspective, globalization began in the 1970s with the first large-scale offshoring of semi-conductor, clothing, shoe, electronic, … manufacturing, and the large-scale importation of automobiles, and accelerated during the 1980s. Capitalists and 401Ks were the most significant forces driving globalization. As a result of globalization, the DJI soared to new heights.

By 2020, most all of our critical medicines were being manufactured in China and India; hampering our ability to respond to the Covid-19 Pandemic, causing tens of thousands of Americans to die unnecessarily. The US was no longer self-sufficient, hadn’t been for more than twenty years.

Significant unintended consequences of Globalization include:   Millions of well-paying jobs were sent overseas.  A Globalization related Opioid Epidemic that began in the 1990s. The American landscape was littered with dead and dying communities.   By 2020, 40% of US Workers were living from paycheck to paycheck; working at jobs that did not pay a living wage.   America suffered a soaring homeless population. Due to offshored critical manufacturing, the nation was unable to respond to a worldwide pandemic.

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What Was Behind Barr’s Friday Night Massacre???

What Was Behind Barr’s Friday Night Massacre? . . . Ignorance

A comment in my wanderings:

Barr could not fire Berman who is a court appointed US Attorney. His foolish attempt to do so only makes him look even worse than what he was perceived to be.

On Friday night, Barr claimed Berman had resigned. Sitting in the wings to replace Berman, a golfing buddy of Trump’s who is the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Jay Clayton would be the nominee to replace Berman. In the interim, the job would go to Craig Carpenito, the U.S. attorney for New Jersey. What surprised me was Berman replying he had not resigned and would not resign. As it came to light, Barr had no power to get rid of the court-appointed U.S. attorney,

Barr was forced to backpedal and enlist the president’s help. On Saturday, Barr announced that Trump was firing Berman at his request.

Trump tried to sidestep the mess by telling reporters:

“I’m not involved,”

Trump and Barr were passing the bag of crap and blame back and forth with their comments.

So who is going to replace Berman? Berman’s deputy, Audrey Strauss, the first assistant U.S. attorney. Ms. Strauss is a veteran prosecutor, respected by her peers, thoroughly versed in the cases that threaten Trump, and not relevant to all of this . . . a Democrat who donated to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

What has transpired over the last few months is a president who conspired with an ideological DOJ AG to exercise greater authoritarian power over his government and who is stumbling into blunder after blunder destroying any illusion of control and with it the grounds for fearing him.

Grinning (me)   .   .   .    a masterful setup and follow through by Berman as he exits the door leaving behind a veteran prosecutor, respected by her peers, thoroughly versed in the cases threatening Trump, and who is (although irrelevant) a Democrat who donated to Hillary Clinton in 2016. Trump and Barr are stuck with Audrey Strauss. 🙂

Failure is a Contagion

A DA responder

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George Floyd and the Costs of Racial Capitalism

George Floyd and the Costs of Racial Capitalism, LAWCHA, Ken Estey, June 10, 2020

Some History

A little bit about LAWCHA. The “Labor and Working Class History Association” is an organization of scholars, teachers, students, labor educators, and activists who seek to promote public and scholarly awareness of labor and working-class history through research, writing, and organizing. It grew out of the conversations among labor historians over the course of a couple of years between 1996 and 1998 about the importance of giving labor history greater visibility nationally in both academic circles and public arenas.


With all the news on the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, little is being said about George other than his demise at the hands of the police. Ken Etsey writes on George’s background as a person and why so many other Black Americans like George arrive at a similar point in time where they can lose their lives over so minor as a “supposed” counterfeit 20 dollar bill. Many others like George struggle in what is described as a Racial Capitalist economy which values flexibility to “hire and fire” and profit over Labor stability and good pay. It is a good read. James McElroy at  LAWCHA gave AB the go-ahead to post Ken Etsey’s commentary about George and a May economy in which there are gains in white employment while black and Latinx unemployment still rises.

George Floyd’s Story

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Meanwhile potable water becomes more of a problem for Americans

From The Guardian:

In 2010, the UN declared clean water to be a human right. Yet a decade later, millions of Americans lack basic indoor plumbing, more than 100 million are exposed to toxic chemicals in their drinking water, and water bills have risen by an average of 80% across 12 US cities, in a cascading crisis of water affordability.

The Guardian is tackling the subject of the US water crisis with a landmark series, in partnership with Consumer Reports and others – and we’re asking for our readers’ help to test the water quality in your area. As Bernie Sanders and the Michigan congresswoman Brenda Lawrence argue, it is time clean water ceased to be a source of government profit, and became a basic right:

Unbelievably, when it comes to water infrastructure, America’s challenges resemble those of a developing country. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives our drinking water infrastructure a ‘D’ grade and our wastewater infrastructure a ‘D+’.

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On Choosing a Belief System

On Choosing a Belief System


Ken Melvin

Belief Systems, these prisms through which we view the world, have been around from our earliest days. Not so long ago, the Ancient Greeks separated the concept of what we might call belief into two concepts: pistis and doxa with pistis referring to trust and confidence (notably akin the regard accorded science) and doxa referring to opinion and acceptance (more akin the regard accorded cultural norms).

In quest of a personal Belief System, should one: Go with the flow and adapt to the Social or Cultural Norm? Follow the Abrahamic admonishment to first believe? Follow their own Reasoning? Or, should one look to Science?

Social or Cultural Norms are standards for behavior engendered from infancy by parents, teachers, friends, neighbors, and others in one’s life. Social Norms are the shared expectations and rules that guide the behavior of people within social groups; Social Norms can go a long way toward maintaining social order. Engendered, Social or Cultural Norms can be enforced by something as subtle as a gesture, a look, or even the absence of any response at all. At the extremes, aberrant social behavior becomes a crime. One could adopt Social Norms as a part or all of their Belief System.

Most modern Religions are handed down from times long past, times before much was known about anything. Most, if not all, early Religions were based on mythology. Later on, some Religions found more of their basis in whatever evidence and reasoning skills were available to a people. From the earliest times, human cultures have developed some form or another of a Belief System premised on Religion.

Humans are, uniquely it seems, given the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking in an orderly rational way; they are given the faculty of Reason. To Reason is to use the faculty of Reason so as to arrive at conclusions; to discover, formulate, or conclude by way of a carefully Reasoned Analysis. One might base a part or all of their Belief System on Reason.


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The 2020 Presidential election as forecast by State polling

The 2020 Presidential election as forecast by State polling

As we all know, in the US Presidential election national polls are of limited use, as the election is actually decided on a State by State basis.

I’ve seen lots of projections of the Electoral College vote based on national polls, but what if we go just by State polls, and in particular State polls that have been reported in the last 30 days?

That, dear reader, is what the following map looks like:

I prepared this map after a slew of State polling was reported on Wednesday. Here’s how it works:

– States where the race is closer than 3% are shown as toss-ups.
– States where the range is between 3% to 5% are light colors.
– States where the range is between 5% and 10% are medium colors.
– States where the candidate is leading by 10% plus are dark colors.

The only change since Wednesday is that there was a Minnesota poll that gave Biden a 16% lead, enough to bring the average for that State over 10% in favor of Biden.

As of now, all Biden has to do is win the States in which he leads by 3% or more in the polling, and he wins the Electoral College, even without winning a single “toss-up” State as shown on the map.

The only surprising negative for Biden is that Pennsylvania remains a toss-up. Surprisingly, little polling has been done in that State, but while Biden has a slim lead on average, there are several polls dating from May that show a slight Trump lead.

I expect some of the Confederate States to return to the Trump fold.  He always polls his worst when he appears both cruel and clueless. And that’s exactly what he has appeared between his actions on both COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter. His stands are unpopular, and his P.R. stunts (most notably the photo-op at the church) simultaneously have looked tin-eared and execrable.

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“The Boss” Tells Trump . . .

Springsteen: “I had another show prepared for broadcast this week on this strange and eventful summer, but with 100,000+ Americans dying over the last few months and the empty, shamed response from our leaders, I’ve been simply pissed off.  Those lives deserved better than just being inconvenient statistics for our President’s re-election efforts. It’s a national disgrace.

If you haven’t noticed, President Trump—or anyone in the White House, really—hasn’t been entirely diligent in wearing a mask to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The Boss? He definitely noticed. And he let Trump know it.

I’m going to start out by sending one to the man sitting behind the resolute desk. With all respect, sir, show some consideration and care for your countrymen and your country. Put on a f**king mask.

“So instead of celebrating the joys of summer today, we will be contemplating on our current circumstances with the coronavirus and the cost that it has drawn from our nation. We will be calculating what we’ve lost, sending prayers for the deceased, and the families they’ve left behind.”

H/T: Yves’s Links 06/20/2020 at Naked Capitalism; Bruce Springsteen to Donald Trump: ‘Put On a F**king Mask’

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Interesting stuff

by David Zetland    (One handed economist)

Interesting stuff

  1. Biohacking life” — a physics geek gets into our metabolism
  2. Governments are printing money to “get out of the crisis”, but they are probably sowing the seeds of the next crisis (of inflation? fiscal collapse?)
  3. An incredibly interesting dive into Japanese cosmology
  4. The American Press Is Destroying Itself (under pressures of political correctness)
  5. This is the governance article (good/bad responses to C19 as a function of government quality) I’ve been looking for!
  6. Excess deaths really explain the damage from C19: NYT and Economist
  7. Some techniques for reaching consensus on difficult topics
  8. Humans have used technology to help women to have 8 billion babies
  9. Massive glaciers are melting in Antartica in front of researchers’ eyes.
  10. A VC guy on big tech monopolies, inequality and race

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SCOTUS Blocks Census Citizenship Question

Writing for the Majority (5-4):  Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the explanation offered by the Trump administration for adding the question “appears to have been contrived.” Justice John Roberts did leave open the possibility of change if the Administration could provide an adequate answer.

Executive branch officials must “offer genuine justifications for important decisions, reasons that can be scrutinized by courts and the interested public. Accepting contrived reasons would defeat the purpose of the enterprise. If judicial review is to be more than an empty ritual, it must demand something better than the explanation offered for the action taken in this case.”


USA Today has a good version of the SCOTUS decision. John Roberts and the liberal block rule against 2020 census citizenship question (for now) handing Trump administration a major defeat. Others have said there will probably not be another submission to SCOTUS on the Citizenship question. The only one who might change their “yea” vote would be Roberts if a reasonable answer was supplied by the Administration.

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